Advocates of immigration are hailing an announcement last month that the U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has ceased seeking deportation for
foreign nationals eligible for green cards.
The announcement was made by John Morton, the assistant secretary for ICE.
Morton added that the agency would drop existing deportation proceedings
against anyone eligible under this new guideline.
Morton wrote in an Aug. 20 memo that in situations where there is "an
underlying application or petition" and ICE determines "a non-detained
individual appears eligible for relief from removal, [its attorneys] should
promptly move to dismiss proceedings." ICE lawyers are being told to move
towards dismissal in situations where the immigrant does not have a criminal
record and is likely to receive a green card.
According to the Miami Herald, those impacted by the change in policy "are
possibly tens of thousands who are married to a U.S. citizen or a legal
resident who has filed a petition for them."
Advocates for immigration believe this is better use of ICE's time and
budget. Cheryl Little, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy
Center told USA Today that "Targeting those who intend to do harm while
expediting the cases of law-abiding immigrants is the best use of ICE's
precious resources and will save taxpayers money."
Indeed, ICEs press secretary emphasized to the Herald that the agency is
"committed to smart, effective immigration reform, prioritizing the arrest
and removal of criminal aliens and those who pose a danger to national
The overwhelming reason for the policy change is to deal with what Morton
called "major inefficiency." The New York Times reported that 17,000 cases
could be eliminated from the immigration court dockets if ICE dismissed cases
of immigrants like those married to U.S. citizens. Currently the wait for
hearings in immigration court begun by an ICE deportation case is 459 days.
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